Like many TA users I was drawn by the positive reviews for Byzas Tours in Istanbul. I booked two separate tours to Cappadoccia and Ephesus with Byzas from Istanbul.
Let me start by saying that it is the common practice of many tour operators to sub-contract
tour operations to other companies or related companies , without the guest being told this ahead. I discovered this by looking at the windshield placard in one of our pick up vans . This speaks to issues of full disclosure and transparency.
The reps I saw waiting at the airport holding up signs are generally young kids. They are told to have you sit and wait , while they work their cell phones in order to trace down the van driver .
I waited for half hour until I was led to my transport van with no other guests.
In one case we had to walk the equivalent of three blocks to find the van parked and waiting.
Seems like the van should have met us at the airport curb instead of requiring me to trek with luggage to a vehicle with a motor and wheels.
I felt cheated by the little time spent at the sights on the itinerary , as well as the little time afforded to eat lunch .
This objection can be easily appreciated by the amount of time that the guide brings tour guests to various tourist traps like a carpet business and a leather goods business.
My Ephesus tour included two separate stops at tourist traps which amounted to two and a half
hours of total selling time ....time which was costing me money.
I realize that there is a commission arrangement in the diverting of guests to stores . The problem lies in the fact that the guests are being cheated out of paid-for time as a way to provide third party commissions . This is an abuse.
The van driver and tour guide engage in other instances of "down time" , which may include returning to a hotel just left , in order to pick up additional guests . Surely this info was already known to the operators.
For the return to the airport in Ephesus , I and other guests were made to walk the equivalent of 5 blocks to the waiting van , instead of the van coming to pick us up . This was at the end of a long and tiring day.
Let me end by saying this ; I had to wake up at 4 in the morning in order to participate in these excursions which involved a trip to the airport, a domestic flight , a wait for transport, one hour of van travel to get to the tour origination site , the time of actual touring , another hour van trip to the airport , the return flight and the return transport to the hotel.
Considering the length of such days , I do not appreciate being routed to tourist traps and being made to walk to transport vans which should be picking me up at door-step